Painful, stiff joints are a common byproduct of aging. In fact, 30% of adults over age 45 have some form of arthritis.
Arthritis is a catch-all term for conditions that cause inflammation and pain in your joints. There are more than 100 different types of the disease, with osteoarthritis leading the pack, especially among the older population, including Baby Boomers.
As the medical world casts about for cures for these joint conditions, all too often drugs and surgeries are offered as stop-gap measures, but these are hardly cures and can sometimes cause more problems than you anticipated.
As an alternative, we here at the Osteopathic Center for Healing have had great success using four different drug- and surgery-free treatments that tap your body’s own incredible healing resources with great success, allowing our patients in the Washington, D.C., area to regain freedom of movement.
Here’s a quick look at each of the treatments and how they work.
Your blood contains four different ingredients: red and white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Though your platelets are largely responsible for clotting, they also contain hundreds of proteins, or growth factors, that aid in healing and repair.
With platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, Dr. Neil Spiegel draws your blood and separates out your platelets in a centrifuge, creating a concentrate that’s 5-10 times greater than normal. After mixing your platelets back into your plasma, Dr. Spiegel injects the PRP into areas where your body can use a little extra help in regenerating the soft tissue in your joints.
With these reinforcements, your ligaments, cartilage, and tendons benefit from the proteins, which reduce the inflammation and promote healing and regeneration.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cells are one of nature’s true miracles because of their ability to morph into whatever cell is needed for the job at hand. Most of the cells in your body are single purpose, meaning they’re dedicated to one task and one task alone -- your liver cells tend to your liver, and your skin cells work within your skin.
Your stem cells, which are the most powerful during your fetal development, are undifferentiated, which means they can become whatever cell is needed and multiply indefinitely as that cell.
For years the medical community has sought ways to tap this powerful resource, and we’re finding success in many different areas, including arthritic joints. By taking some of your own stem cells, or donor cells, we can inject them into your inflamed and painful joints where they transform themselves into cells that repair damaged tissue and regenerate healthier connective fibers.
Prolotherapy is a wonderful tool that “tricks” your body into a healing response in order to ramp up collagen production to repair damaged tissue. The injections contain harmless ingredients like sugar or saline that act as irritants, which cause minor swelling. Your body responds to this by directing its natural healing resources toward the area, mainly in the form of collagen, which helps to rebuild and stabilize the connective tissue in your joints.
We also include a local anesthetic in the injection to help relieve some of the discomforts you’re feeling in your joint.
When it comes to osteoarthritis, the biggest problem is the breakdown of cartilage in your joints. Cartilage is the slippery substance that covers the ends of the bones in your joints to prevent them from rubbing together painfully. Over time, wear and tear begin to wear down your cartilage, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain.
Alpha-2 macroglobulin (A2M) is a naturally occurring protein found in your blood, which blocks enzymes from breaking down your proteins. When we use A2M injections, our goal is to stop the breakdown of your cartilage by adding these inhibitors, preventing any further degeneration.
A2M is different from the three therapies above because of its potential to stop the damage of osteoarthritis, rather than relying on a repair-and-regenerate approach.
If you’d like to fight back against aging and painful joints, but you don’t like the thought of drugs or surgery, call us or make an appointment using our online scheduling tool. We’d be happy to sit down with you to find the best way to get you back to an active, pain-free life.